Lessons of Darkness; 1992
I want to thank my buddy Mike Darren for reminding me of this film; I had forgotten about it. Mike's step father was Joe Carpenter, whom I have written about numerous times on OilyStuff Blog; here, for instance. Mike and I have a mutual love for Joe and miss him dearly.
This film, of the Kuwait oil wells fires in 1991, was produced and directed by a German named, Warner Herzog and was shot in 16 MM format. It has some Safety Boss (Canada) footage in it but Boots and Coots got top billing. There are good scenes of David Thompson loading a shot drum, of the late Martin Kelly, of Joe Carpenter, Wayne Lansford, and many others you won't know. Herzog and his cameraman, Paul Berriff were ballsy with their cameras, got up-close and personal on many occasions and if you want to get a good feel for what its like to work in the well control business, anywhere, watch this.
Its a beautifully stunning film, with little narrative, set to amazing music including the likes of Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner Herzog was once quoted as saying his intent was to film this event in Kuwait in such a manner as to make it all not seem, "earthly." Its dark, and a little melodramatic, and Herzog got some grief over it. At the films premier in Berlin it was booed because some thought it glorified war.
People have cut this film all up into pieces and hacked to to death on YouTube. You must watch the entire film to understand why it won many awards for documentaries in 1992 and why the Los Angeles Times called it one of the most memorable documentaries of the year. Its 50 minutes, perfect over before daylight coffee.
Please, if you ever have a chance to meet someone who was directly involved in this firefighting campaign in Kuwait in 1991, shake his hand and thank him. It's hot, hard damn work that required personal sacrifice, time away from family, and great risk to life and limb. These were real men, doing real work....